DRI Board Chair, The Foundation for Systemic Change

John Heffernan is the President of the Foundation for Systemic Change. He has over thirty years of experience in leadership roles in international development, human rights, rule of law, democracy and governance, humanitarian relief and post-conflict reconstruction projects in the United States, Africa, South America, Asia and Europe.

John Heffernan

He has served as executive director of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Speak Truth To Power; director of the Genocide Prevention Initiative at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; senior Investigator with Physicians for Human Rights; chief of party for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Guyana, South America; founder and executive director of the Coalition for International Justice; and country representative for the former Yugoslavia and Sudan for the International Rescue Committee.  He was trained as a community organizer by legendary organizer Fred Ross.

He is a graduate of the University of California/Santa Barbara and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He is also a former Coro Fellow. He serves as the board chair for Disability Rights International and the Educator’s Institute for Human Rights and is on the board of Social Documentary Network. John lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Margie Palm, and is the father of Olivia, Sofia and Isabella.